Bravery Without Forethought

I had strong opinions about my list after my last game with Combined. It had good bones but was missing a lot in the way of important tools.

I really wanted to prove to myself that I had what it took to pilot a Combined list still, so I asked James (RomanLegion) for a game on a more open table than we usually play on:


  • Mission: ITS14 Decapitation
  • Forces: Combined Army versus Yu Jing (300)
  • Deploy First: Combined Army
  • First Turn: Combined Army

I knew I needed a few things in the list. To satisfy my artificial list building constraints, I needed an Aspect, a TAG, and as many Taigha as I could fit. I chose to keep an MSV3 Charontid Plasma Rifle as my Aspect. I wanted to be very aggressive with it, so I was a bit reluctant to get it isolated by a hacker. I kept the Xeodron, because I still haven’t gotten any use out of one (it always dies very early it seems), and kept my Unidron plasma sniper.

Nourkias Test
GROUP 1 9 2

NOURKIAS (Lieutenant, Hacker, Killer Hacking Device [UPGRADE: Total Control (+1 Damage)]) Breaker Combi Rifle, Flash Pulse ( ) / Pistol, Vorpal CC Weapon, E/M CC Weapon. (0 | 45)
CHARONTID (Multispectral Visor L3) Plasma Rifle, Nanopulser ( ) / Heavy Pistol, Shock CC Weapon. (0 | 69)
XEODRON K1 Marksman Rifle, Blitzen / Heavy Pistol, Shock CC Weapon. (0 | 53)
STALDRON Flash Pulse / CC Weapon. (0 | 0)
Q-DRONE Plasma Rifle / PARA CC Weapon(-3). (1 | 24)
SPECULO KILLER Boarding Shotgun, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, Monofilament CC Weapon. (1 | 32)
UNIDRON Plasma Sniper Rifle / Pistol, PARA CC Weapon(-3). (1.5 | 24)
IKADRON (Baggage, Repeater) Light Flamethrower(+1B), Flash Pulse / Pistol, PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 9)
ÍMETRON . (0 | 6)
ÍMETRON . (0 | 6)
LIBERTO (Minelayer) Light Shotgun, Shock Mines / Pistol, CC Weapon. (1 | 8)

GROUP 2 4 4

TAIGHA Chain-colt / AP + Shock CC Weapon. (0 | 6)
TAIGHA Chain-colt / AP + Shock CC Weapon. (0 | 6)
TAIGHA Chain-colt / AP + Shock CC Weapon. (0 | 6)
TAIGHA Chain-colt / AP + Shock CC Weapon. (0 | 6)

4.5 SWC | 300 Points | Open in Army | Copy Code

I wanted a strong Lieutenant option, so I used Nourkias. I was confident in his ability to fend of most threats on his own, and access to Protheion would give me additional survivability if I could ever get it to proc. The key tech addition was a Speculo. The idea came from my last game against Steve, where I really needed smoke. The obvious choice would have been been something like a Daturazi to get smoke in front of the Charontid, but really that’s inefficient, just from a geometry and order perspective.

If I throw smoke in front of the Charontid, by necessity I will have to throw smoke multiple times to move and engage different targets, because there’s presumably at least one thing that I cannot deal with at range that’s out of ARO. However, if I put the smoke in front of the ARO piece, I move the Charontid freely and engage whatever targets of opportunity I require, eventually closing to the target I threw smoke in front of.

If there are multiple things left out to ARO, I just smoke out the most appropriate target, and then challenge the other with the Xeodron or Unidron. Then I can safely attack with the Charontid. This is the most efficient thing I can think of, and would have been an excellent way to handle the Volkolak in the previous game. I could have challenged the bear with plasma and then worked through all of the Rokots and finally the Volkolak.

In any case, I want to do some exploration of this style of list and toolkit. It’s incredibly expensive but possible. If I were to try this again, I could potentially take a Caliban Chain of Command and the Charontid Lieutenant, now I’m just splitting hairs.

James is taking Sun Tze as Lieutenant, which is a pretty rare choice these days, I feel. He does have the usual Kuang Shi pile power a Su Jian, however. Lunah and his ubiquitous Beasthunter also make an appearance with the Liberto.

James (RomanLegion)
GROUP 1 8 2 4

SUN TZE (Lieutenant [+1 Command Token]) Boarding Shotgun, Flash Pulse / Breaker Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 60)
CELESTIAL GUARD Monitor Combi Rifle, Smoke Grenade Launcher / CC Weapon, Pistol. (0.5 | 13)
KUANG SHI Chain Rifle / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 5)
KUANG SHI Chain Rifle / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 5)
KUANG SHI Chain Rifle / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 5)
KUANG SHI Chain Rifle / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 5)
SÙ-JIÀN Heavy Shotgun(+1B), Panzerfaust / Heavy Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 50)
MAJOR LUNAH VIRAL Sniper Rifle / Pistol, CC Weapon. (1.5 | 29)
BEASTHUNTERS (Surprise Attack [-3], Camouflage, Forward Deployment [+8″]) Heavy Flamethrower, Panzerfaust, AP Mines / EXP CC Weapon(+1B), Pistol. (0 | 17)
LIBERTO (Minelayer) Light Shotgun, Shock Mines / Pistol, CC Weapon. (1 | 8)


WÈIBĪNG Yaókòng Combi Rifle, Flash Pulse / PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 15)
WÈIBĪNG Yaókòng Combi Rifle, Flash Pulse / PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 15)
SON-BAE Yaókòng Missile Launcher / PARA CC Weapon(-3). (1.5 | 16)
ZHÀNYING (Hacker, Hacking Device) Breaker Combi Rifle, Chain-colt, D-Charges ( ) / Pistol, PARA CC Weapon(-6). (0.5 | 25)
CHIEF JEONG K1 Combi Rifle, AP Mines, D-Charges / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 29)
YÁOZĂO PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 3)

5 SWC | 300 Points | Open in Army | Copy Code

What’s fun is the second group with the double Weibing, Zhanying Hacker for sixth sense, and Chief Jeong.


I won the rolloff and elected to go to go first, so James had em deploy first. I set the Unidron up on a high tower on my right, protecting two Imetrons. The Liberto anchored the right midfield, and an Ikadron did the same for the left side of the table, screening the Xeodron’s left flank.

I didn’t know where everything on James’s side of the table was going to go, so I put the Q-Drone in the middle of the table, figuring it could just advance straight up the stairs into the central area and raised platform to deal with whatever threats needed handling. I made a spot for Nourkias on the left side, protected by a bunch of Taigha, with the rest of my Taigha just hanging out across my deployment zone. The Charontid went on the right ready to advance as well. I figured that was the most likely and easiest avenue of approach for me, and I resolved to put the Speculo on that side as well, but I held her in reserve to not tip my hand to James.

James set up a bunch of Kuang Shi guarding his deployment zone against impersonators and airborne deployment troopers. Sun Tze was on the right and the Su Jian was on the left. Of note is Jeong is on the left and he has a repeater. To further his deployment zone repeater coverage, James used both of his Weibing. He was a little concerned about my Libertos so he protected against it with his own mine.

The Zhanying was a little far forward and in a bit of a dangerous spot in my opinion, but it’s screened by plenty of stuff. It doesn’t need to be forward to push buttons, so it’s a bit of a risk here. James of course stuck his Beasthunter forward to be obnoxious. That’s such a strong profile–I really don’t understand the reason CB added it–it’s so powerful without asking you to compromise any part of your list building, really. Compare that to something like the Hac Tao–easily understandable as a powerful piece, but comes with the appropriate cost. I’m not suggesting the Beasthunter cost as much as a Hac Tao, but it doesn’t really seems to force any sort of significant tradeoff, which is to me a bit problematic for internal balance of the game.

The Son Bae was also left out to ARO, but Lunah was not. My reserve of the Speculo and Nourkias came down. At this point I don’t recall what his reserve was. Probably the Beasthunter?

Turn 1

Top of 1 – Combined Army

James of course took two orders from me. I started things off by getting smoke down with the Speculo, which is when I found out that Chief Jeong had a repeater! I did not intend to do anything about him, as he wasn’t really a threat, but now I had to if i wanted to enact my Charontid plan. I rolled into base to base and whapped him with the Speculo’s monofilament. He of course passed ARM while the Kuang Shi dodged into view.

I managed to get Jeong with another order, but the Kuang Shi shot his pistol into close combat and managed to take down the Speculo.

No matter. I had an opportunity to take on the Su Jian with the Charontid’s plasma. I hit, but only managed to take out the nearby Kuang Shi controller with the plasma template.

I kept pressing, taking out the nearby Kuang Shi…

and then the Zhanshi, basically giving me quantronic supremacy.

I really wanted to get rid of the Su Jian, so I pushed very hard and kept shooting it with plasma. Somehow the Weibing crit me with its combi and the Charontid took a wound.

I came around the corner and kept firing, but the Su Jian was able to stay up without taking any wounds. I did, however, lose the Charontid to a missile shot from the Son Bae.

In revenge, I took out one of James’s Designated Targets with a Taigha.

I’m not interested in dealing with the Son Bae just yet, so I put the Xeodron in suppression and Nourkias into holomask state. With that, it was over to James.

Bottom of 1 – Yu Jing

I haven’t done an insane amount of damage, especially not at the cost of an Charontid, but I’ve done a fair amount of damage to James’s right flank. Most upsetting, however, is the fact that his Su Jian is unscathed.

James is very concerned about my Unidron sniper and decides to use the Weibing to deal with it. He idles and then attempts to dodge into view, granting me a dodge on my Taigha in spite of his Weibing failing to dodge.

Lunah just rolls around the corner and takes the shot instead.

7.64 35.46 56.90

She’s got a chance to make it happen, but Unidrons are actually BTS 9 in cover, so the first shot doesn’t work.

It actually takes another two orders to bring the Unidron down, using a mix of coordinated orders and Triangulated Fire. The Dogged and Remote Presence combo is brutal.

With the Unidron down, this opens the door for the Beasthunter to get into base to base with the Xeodron and take it out. I can’t do much against this other than lament my deployment choices.

James decides to shift some of the Weibing near the Taigha, which actually allows me to dodge into close combat with one of the Weibing.

This isn’t great for James, but he’s out of orders so he passes turn.

Turn 2

Top of 2 – Combined Army

Woof. That was a rough turn, losing the Xeodron.

I start things off by attempting to take out the Weibing in close combat but end up getting zapped in close combat. Boo.

This does let me roll the other Taigha up and drop a template cross the Weibing and the Son Bae, taking both out, although I definitely lose the Taigha.

All that matters at the moment is taking care of the Beasthunter. It’s the only thing that can actually take on Nourkias that’s in position to do so. The only real tool I have to do this is the Libertos, so I start making my way over there. The surviving Weibing attempts a discover, so I blast it with the Libertos on the way out. Unfortunately for me it passes ARM and stays up, but I’m already out of LoF so it’s okay.

It takes most of my orders but I make it to where the Beasthunter has taken cover inside a building and start shotgunning.

It takes a bit, but I get behind the Beasthunter and shotgun it down.

I’ve got just enough orders left to get a single order worth of shooting on the last Designated Target with the Libertos for the points, so I do that.

With that, I hope that the Q-Drone will slow down the Su Jian enough and I pass turn.

Bottom of 2 – Yu Jing

Things are still not looking great for me, but they’re starting to reach parity now.

James sends in Lunah to deal with the Q-Drone. This ordinarily would go fine, but the Q-Drone double crits Lunah and needless to say she doesn’t make it.

The Su Jian is an absolute nuisance though and it just powers through the Libertos’ mine doing it a wound.

It then super annoyingly takes out both Designated Targets in one order. Sigh.

It takes a few more orders, but the Su Jian does manage to take down the Q-Drone before retiring to a defensive position.

James then does something incredibly brave and walks Sun Tze out of his hiding spot and tries to use him to anchor his right (my left) flank. This is excellent news for me, and I intend to capitalize on it immediately!

Turn 3

Top of 3 – Combined Army

After the Taigha race forward, I start my run. Nourkias is still in cybermask, so I jump him off his perch. Sun Tze discovers, so I throw some breaker shots his way, doing a wound. Sun Tze manages to dodge away from a Taigha that makes it really far forward, so I probably won’t get to burst 3 with Nourkias.

In any case, Nourkias re-cybermasks and I super jump again, forcing a discover and shooting more breaker ammo.

I don’t get through but Sun Tze does make it to cover by failing guts. This opens him to a shot from the Libertos (thanks frenzy movement), who templates, failing to do a wound to either the Kuang Shi or Sun Tze, although the Kuang Shi also fails to hurt the Libertos.

Nourkias makes it all the way forward and dodges Sun Tze’s boarding shotgun template, although the Taigha bites the dust.

This lets Nourkias dodge into CC, and he just wipes the floor with Sun Tze, Total Immunity or not.

This fills Nourkias to full wounds, so he pops around the corner and takes on a pair of Kuang Shi in an attempt to deprive James of orders. I only down one, sadly.

Bottom of 3 – Yu Jing

James wants to soften up Nourkias with the Kuang Shi’s pistols, but between the Libertos and Nourkias’s breaker rifle I put it dogged.

The Weibing spends its tac aware trying to clear my last Taigha and the Libertos, and succeeds only in granting a dodge to the Taigha and letting the Libertos turn around.

At this point, it’s the Su Jian show. I fail to do a wound as it runs by the Taigha…

and then James cannot get into position quickly enough to do enough wounds to Nourkias to make a difference.

With that, it’s game.

10-4, 80-78 Combined Army Victory!

Post Game Analysis

Well, Sun Tze should’ve listened to himself:

Bravery without forethought, causes a man to fight blindly and desperately like a mad bull.  Such an opponent, must not be encountered with brute force, but may be lured into an ambush and slain.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

I think I was headed for a game loss here, but Sun Tze moving forward handed me the win on a silver platter. It’s funny how similar this game was to the last one. I threw something even more expensive than a Libertos at a problem, a Charontid. I got some actual damage done, but I spent a good 2-3 orders just failing to do anything at all to the Su Jian. In fact, the only wound it took the entire game was from a lucky mine.

The difference between the last game and this one was that I was able to non-zero damage, and more importantly, I had midfield presence that was meaningful–the two Taigha annoying the Weibing and my Libertos. That was enough to delay James for me to recover. Also, Steve’s list has two pretty strong attack vectors spread across two combat groups. James, less so.

In any case, two pretty similar games. This game I felt I had just enough tools to handle the tasks at hand, but no redundancy. I think that’s the character of the Combined lists I’m choosing to play though, so I don’t really have anyone to blame but myself. Really I was just saved by James making a bold decision and getting punished for it. Honestly, I could have gotten Nourkias flash pulsed and that would have been the end of it too, so there’s a bit of dice luck here as well.

I’m happy with my execution this game, more or less. The big takeaway for me is maybe I just have to treat the Su Jian like a TAG from now on. It doesn’t really seem to matter what I use to go after it, whether or not it’s in the open, etc. I’d be better served depriving it of orders than going after it directly. It’s statline is just too good for me to have a hope of consistently achieving results outside of the most ideal scenario.

The Charontid would have been much better just chewing through all of the orders, with no real danger of putting James into retreat. That’s probably the play here. I wish I had done that instead. Ah well. The other big takeaway is that the Xeodron wasn’t adequately protected. Definitely need to do something about that next game. As far as improvement notes for James–he could have just killed my orders by going after the Imetrons with the Su Jian instead of targeting the Q-Drone, which would have been better. Also, not throwing Sun Tze under the bus.

This is a shorter analysis than the previous few reports, mostly because it’s clear cut as to what happened and why. As always, thanks for reading.


I primarily play Infinity and Heavy Gear nowadays, but I dabble in plenty of other game systems.

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